Ferguson wants win to mark milestone
Sir Alex Ferguson hopes to celebrate becoming Manchester United's longest-serving manager by landing a knockout blow to Chelsea's bid to retain the Premier League title. Ferguson will pass Sir Matt Busby's record for longevity at United when he sends his team into action at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
It will be 8,811 days since Ferguson took charge at Old Trafford, one more than the legendary Busby - who won the club's first European Cup in 1968 - managed during his two stints in charge, but the Scot is more concerned with opening up a six-point gap on defending champions Chelsea than his place in the history books.
Chelsea are languishing in fourth place after five games without a win and Ferguson knows how significant it would be if United could add to the rivals' misery with a first win at the Bridge since 2002.
"It is a big one for us," Ferguson said. "Our record down there has been poor over the last eight years. We have managed a few draws, but we've lost a few too. They are a tough team to beat on their own ground. When Jose (Mourinho) came he made sure they were very solid at home. That has carried on."
United will travel to west London full of confidence after Monday's 1-0 win over Arsenal. Although Chelsea started the season in fine form before imploding in recent weeks, they have slipped to fourth following a run of five matches without a win.
Ferguson has complete respect for Carlo Ancelotti's battle-hardened team and expects them to get back on track soon, but he sees no reason why his side can't extend their club record 16-match unbeaten start in the league.
"They are a very experienced side. The last six years, in terms of the title race, has been about Manchester United and Chelsea so you are going to get tough games between us," said Ferguson, who will be without injured midfielder Paul Scholes.
"We all have these spells. We had it early on. We were the ones giving points away. We analysed how and why we dropped points and I am sure Carlo will be doing the same.
"You have to recognise this is a tough league. Teams are dropping points against opponents they would not have done a few years ago. But I am going into the game with a strong, confident squad. You want to go there in good form and we are."
While Ferguson has few concerns heading into the biggest game of the season, Ancelotti desperately needs a victory after his club's stumbles in recent weeks. Not only had Ancelotti had to cope with a series of injuries to key players, but he has also had his position undermined by the shock sacking of assistant coach Ray Wilkins.
With his job under increasing threat, Ancelotti admits defeat is unthinkable given the political nature of life at Chelsea, yet he insists he would still love to stay at the Bridge for ten years.
"It is not the decisive game but I don't want to think we will lose this game because there would be a strong gap to recover." he said. "I don't have to judge my job just on victories. The club can judge the other things. You have to ask (owner Roman) Abramovich and not me about the importance of winning.
"I have the same idea of staying for ten years. It depends on what the team is able to do but I think that is a realistic ambition. I have 100 percent power with my players. This is my aim. I don't ask to have more power in different areas."
His cause would be helped if Frank Lampard can stay fit as the England midfielder prepares to start for the first time since August after hernia surgery and a groin injury. Ancelotti could also do with more dynamic displays from Didier Drogba after the Ivorian responded to being dropped last weekend with a goal and a missed penalty in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham.
"Frank coming back is very important news for us. He is the best player at scoring from midfield, he could bring more dynamism and movement from midfield and obviously experience and character," Ancelotti said. "Didier was not happy obviously to start from the bench but he had a good reaction. I would be more disappointed if a player is happy to be on the bench as that means he lost motivation."